Translation of Yushimito’s Rhizome for Paradoxa

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The folks behind Paradoxa have a brand-new chock-full issue dedicated to speculative fiction, edited by Debra Ann Castillo and Liliana Colanzi. I was lucky enough to get to translate Carlos Yushimito’s stellar “Rhizome”: a biting, satirical, high camp slash deadly serious chthonic revenge tale, where the earth rises up against its exploiters after Peru’s gastronomical explosion gives rise to zombies. Somehow, in Yushimito’s hands, it all works beautifully. Here’s a taste:

“Of course, this beautiful, hospitable country,” Mollà hastened to add, “has a remarkable gastronomy. Techno-cuisine doesn’t spell an end to this gastronomy’s standing as one of the richest raw materials on the continent, even the entire world. All that’s needed is the machinery to extract it. Think about that rich and brilliant untapped resource lying dormant in the quarries! Look at it, and make it blossom! Turn it into that gold ring that you wear on your finger!”

 

(Applause)

(((Applause)))

((((((Applause))))))

 

It was like being inside a plane that had just landed (Chef Mollà just said our cuisine is a rich raw material!). Now Mollà smoothed his moustache; came down to earth as well; gauged his stage presence; and read the room by sensing the smells, the textures, and the flavors that every single word-and-gesture combination evoked. A young woman was taking notes; dressed in a short skirt and a blouse with shoulder pads, she moved her nose from one place to another, as if sniffing out something. It was imminent. The news! The news! The other assistants, all men, were leaving the note-taking to her, seated in the first row, and every so often they craned to steal a glimmer of her décolletage. (The news!) I looked around. Arms were going up slowly, like trees growing. And one after the other those movements fruited questions that were polite, tentative, ingratiating. Circumstantial. Severí Mollà responded as if following a recipe capable of combining all those inane ingredients to produce a plat du jour of thoughtful responses.

Finally, I raised my hand. The frail-boned man pointed his frail finger at me, and I waited until the microphone was passed over.

“Molecular gastronomy, Señor Mollà,” I said, flipping through my notes. “The trend that began in the 1990s with French chemist-chef Hervé This. It pre-empted this and other similar approaches. Nevertheless, proponents of techno-emotional cuisine, you among them, have declared that molecular gastronomy is not an influence, and have even rejected it. Could you speak to the reasons behind this?”